Thursday, August 12, 1999

ATP NOTEBOOK


Cramps claim Courier

        It had the potential to be one of the best matches of the tournament.

        Jim Courier won the first set against Cedric Pioline 7-6 (7-5) and lost the second set 7-6 (7-4). Then, trailing 2-0 and love-30 in the third set, Courier called it quits, retiring with heat cramps in his legs.

        “I'm very disappointed to have to stop the match,” he said through an ATP Tour official. “The cramping first started setting in in the second set. To have cramps after just an hour and 40 minutes of play is extremely unusual. And this is the second or third time that this has happened this year. I have to go in and find out what's wrong with my body.”

        HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PETE: Paul Annacone, who has been coaching Pete Sampras since 1995, found Sampras' birthday gift at the ATP Tennis Center.

        Annacone stopped by the Sprint cellular phone booth and picked one up for Sampras. He gave Sprint representative Jon Phillip Barnes a tennis ball from Wimbledon that was autographed by Sampras.

        Sampras turns 28 today.

        NO DOUBLES FOR RAFTER: Last Friday night in Montreal, Patrick Rafter lost his singles match to Nicolas Kiefer, then in less than an hour had a doubles match with teammate Jonas Bjorkman.

        They won their match and ended up capturing their third title of the year. Rafter and Bjorkman are the second-ranked team in the world.

        But Rafter told the media in Montreal he will not play doubles any more this summer.

        Bjorkman ended up playing here with Byron Black, and they won their first match 6-3, 6-2 over Richey Reneberg and Jonathan Stark on Wednesday.

        FOR THE KIDS: Six players — Don Johnson, Leander Paes, Cyril Suk, Jared Palmer, Wayne Ferreira, Mark Knowles and Ramon Delgado — volunteered to make the annual trip to Childrens Hospital

        “I don't think any of the players were told to go,” said Maggie Devereux, director of corporate communications for Childrens Hospital, said. “All the kids like having people visit them who care.”

        The players gave the children ATP Tour T-shirts and ATP player cards.

        “We left the ATP Center at 12:15 p.m. and returned about 3:30 p.m.,” Devereux said. “This was the best trip we've had, but we say that every year.”

        PRO-AM: Tim Henman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Patrick McEnroe and Cliff Drysdale also volunteered their time on Wednesday by participating in a pro-am tournament to raise money for Inner City Youth Opportunities.

        Twelve amateurs donated $1,000 each to compete with the professional players. The pro-am tournament has raised more than $50,000 over the past four years.

        KEEPING STATS: The oohs and aahs from the crowd when Sampras unleashes a 130 mph serve often echo throughout the ATP Tennis Center.

        But, how fast is that serve traveling when returned by the opposing player?

        And, how much distance does a professional tennis player cover during a typical match?

        The answers to these questions can be answered accurately now as the result of the latest technology developed by Lucent Technologies.

        Six cameras, strategically located in the end zones of the ATP Tennis Center, track the movement of the ball and of players, as well as the location of where each ball is hit and the distance each player moves during a match.

        During a three-set upset over No.8 seed Alex Corretja on Wednesday, Michael Chang moved 2.44 miles at an average speed of 9.4 mph. Corretja covered 2.2 miles at an average speed of 9.7 mph.

        Such information is made available to players and coaches.

        After the completion of each match, a chart of the court is printed, showing where each winning shot was hit from and the location of the opposing player at the time.

        A chart also is printed of each set and later combined with the ensuing sets. This can reveal strategy changes made by each player.

        The chart of Sampras' Tuesday victory over Jan Siemerink was revealing. Sampras hit more than 65 percent of his shots to Siemerink's backhand.

        Equipment is also in use to measure the speed of the serve when returned.

        As an example, an 88 mph serve by Chang was traveling only 51 mph after bouncing on the hard surface. A 124 mph serve by Sampras on Tuesday was going 68 mph after bouncing.

        “We're also working on charting the angle of each serve and the height of the bounce based on the speed of the ball,” said Dr. Gopal Pingali, a Lucent representative.

        Lucent was hired by the ATP Tour to develop the system, and the information is designed for use by television commentators.

        HOT TICKET: For the third consecutive afternoon session, an attendance record was set (10,840).

        Contributing: Neil Schmidt, Michael Perry, Dave Schutte.

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